Thanksgiving!

For our first Thanksgiving back in Florida, we decided to host dinner at our new home. We had my Aunt, cousin, his girlfriend, my mom, and Chris’s brother and his family join us. It was a very relaxing day full of food, football (Thank you Jesus for letting the Cowboys win for Chris) and fun. The kids played outside in the bounce house while we got to have adult beverages and play corn hole and enjoy the perfect weather.

Here are some pictures from not only Thanksgiving day, but also a few from the Thanksgiving celebrations at the kids’ schools.

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Please note the little turkey in orange and blue who is blowing kisses to his mommy and daddy before his performance!

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Look at that little Indian! Side note: Nolan put down an embarrassing amount of chicken nuggets at his school feast.

 

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Thank God he used the non-Fitbit arm. Ain’t nobody got time for a fitness tracker in their turkey.

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It just doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving without Grandma Dot’s pumpkin bread.

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Me, Aunt Claudia and mom

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Brady all tuckered out after a day of food and fun. (Again, obsessed with sleeping pictures!)

The day after Thanksgiving we went to Savannah to spend time with my dad and Pat. We got to hang out downtown, see Santa, go to our annual Christmas light event at the Botanical Gardens, and watch the Gators get destroyed by FSU (boo.)

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The only Santa lap Nolan will be sitting on this year!

 

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So much to be thankful for, today and always!

 

 

 

 

Halloween!

This Halloween was one of my favorite with the boys. They got SO into it! Trick or treating was super enjoyable because the boys are finally at an age where they can walk on their own and go up to houses without our help. (We stood on the sidewalk sipping our adult beverages reminding them to say thank you.) We also got the benefit of having my mom nearby so she was able to participate in Nolan’s Trunk or Treat event at his school and hang out on Halloween night.

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Our not-so-elaborately decorated trunk. We’ll step it up next year! (Maybe.)

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We loved spending the morning at Nolan’s school on Halloween. Little stinker.

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Spoiler alert: the boys have already been talking about their costumes for next year. Nolan wants to be a, wait for it, mosquito.

Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving! Our day was spent cooking, lounging, eating, drinking, golfing, watching football, and spending time with family.

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Now that we’re all fat and happy, I thought I’d take a moment to recap some of the things (big & small) that I’m most thankful for. After all, reflecting on your blessings is the key to happiness! (I’m not sure if I stole that from a decorative pillow or something, but you can quote me on that either way.)

In no particular order, here’s what I’m thankful for…

Our kids. (ok, I put them first for a reason.) They’re bright, healthy, funny, crazy boys. They epitomize all that is good and innocent in the world.  To know them, is to know true love. Simply put, they make me happy when skies are gray.

My hubby. He’s exactly what you’d want in a husband- perfectly imperfect. He never lets me down and I feel like I’m a better person when I’m with him. He loves me through and through and you can’t ask for much more than that from someone you’re sharing your life with.

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My parents. They always support my decisions and love me unconditionally. And now, they are the best grandparents to my kiddos.

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Extended family. While I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, I was blessed to be raised in a family where there was always lots of love (and food!) every time we got together. My Grandma Dot loved big family get togethers and around the holidays I am missing her more than ever, but I am so grateful for the memories and traditions that she created for us.

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Fur babies. Albert and Gato make life so much more interesting. Yes, they cause me a lot of headaches and laundry, but they also bring us joy in the form of excited, jumping up and down barking, and late night purring and snuggles.

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Chick Lit and Girly T.V. shows. As much as I love having my hubby around, I’m not going to lie, I kinda enjoy nights when he’s out of town and I get to catch up on episodes of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. And, I certainly couldn’t live without books. Shout out to anyone else who owns a book light that they attach to the top of their books!

Music. Country, classic rock, R&B, pop, Christmas music…you name it. We do not go a day without jamming out. Between dance parties with my kids, to listening to Pandora while I read, I’m so grateful for it.

Friends. I’m so lucky to have met my best friends in college. They know all my crazy stories, have seen me at my best/worst, and still love me. I’m also grateful for all the friends we’ve met over the last couple years as we’ve moved from state to state. Every place we’ve been, we’ve been so blessed to find people who have made us feel at home.

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Wine. Not sure if that really needs an explanation, but, it’s tasty and I think life is better with it. The same goes for alfredo sauce, doughnuts, birthday cake, fresh picked strawberries, champagne, and tacos.

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Faith. I’m grateful for the comfort of knowing my future is in God’s hands and that all of my blessings come from Him.

The University of Florida. It was my home for 4 years and still feels like it every time I go back. It’s where I got my college degree, where I “grew up”, where I found my best friends, and where I met my husband. Going there was most certainly the best, most life changing thing I ever did. (I should also add that I’m super thankful for college football!)

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These are a few of my favorite things! While every day is not perfect, there are certainly blessings all around us each day if we take the time to look for them.

We hope everyone had a blessed day that was full of the 3 F’s- Family, Food, and Football. HAPPY THANKSGIVING Y’ALL!

 

 

 

Fall in NC!

Oh hey, blog. Nice to see you again. No seriously, it’s been forever since I’ve written a post. Time to get back at it!

I thought I’d do a quick re-cap of some of our Fall shenanigans. There’s been lots of football watching, leaf gawking, travel, and enjoying cooler temps.

We try to get in the Fall spirit with a little bit of decorating. Some pumpkins, leaves, and of course a Gator shrine help us enjoy the season a little more.

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Grandma Dot’s Pumpkin Bread recipe is my favorite Fall decoration!

We’ve also been busy with school and soccer the last couple of months. Brady has loved school from day one, where Nolan took some getting used to. He liked the idea of school, but did NOT like mommy leaving. He has finally come around to the idea and now looks forward to it as much as Brady.

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A happy, post school, selfie!

Brady had his first school field trip this Fall- a trip to a pumpkin patch complete with a hayride, goats, and a bounce house.

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Brady’s Soccer Team…

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Go Lions! Brady is so darn cute out there and tries SO hard!

We recently took a trip to Blowing Rock, NC with my Aunt Claudia. She got the best condo for all of us right in Downtown. We were walking distance from restaurants, bars, shops, and a park. The leaves were spectacular along the parkway, the boys enjoyed going back to Tweetsie Railroad, and we had fun exploring Downtown Boone. We even got to check out some cool views of Appalachian State and are highly considering brainwashing our boys to make that their back up school (if they don’t get into UF of course!)

Downtown Blowing Rock…

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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway…

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Exploring Downtown Boone and App State…

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One of the Boone Firefighters invited Brady into the station as we were walking past and let him get into all the trucks- so exciting for him!

Tweetsie Railroad…

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Halloween was super fun this year. Both boys really got into it and were pretty much the cutest dinosaurs ever. They got to trick or treat twice. Once at the park near our house and then again in our neighborhood. They enjoyed the candy, but really liked just hanging out in our driveway with a fire pit and our neighbors. (And the T.V. Chris set up so we could watch college football, of course.)

Pumpkin Decorating…Can you guess which is Nolan’s and which is Brady’s?

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All about the costumes…

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Trick-or-treat the Trail at White Deer Park…

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Halloween night at our house…

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Nolan demonstrating how Triceratops walked on 4 legs.

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He had the best time running up and “scaring” people with is ROAR!

 

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Brady teaching our neighbor Sophie how to pose like a T-Rex.

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So that’s our Fall so far. We’re looking forward to our first Thanksgiving in our new home and enjoying the last little bit of color on the trees. The days of playing outside without sweating or needing puffy jackets are numbered so we are trying to make the most of them! Happy Fall, y’all!

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Halloween- Smith Style

Halloween has never been my favorite holiday. It’s always been OK, but now that I have young kiddos, it’s a whole new ballgame. We had such a blast getting ready for and then celebrating Halloween this year. Our boys are at such a fun age and really enjoyed every bit of the festivities. Brady was obsessed with planning, creating, and wearing his costume that he thought up. And Nolan? Well, he was pretty much made for Halloween. Socializing with strangers, eating junk food, and being told how cute you look… that’s basically Nolan’s dream come true.

This year we let the boys pick out small pumpkins at the Farmer’s Market and they each got to paint them. Nolan mighta eaten a little paint. And of course, Brady meticulously painted every inch of his pumpkin as slowly and carefully as possible.

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Nolan’s on the left, Brady’s on the right.

For Halloween food, I turned to Pinterest. So many Pinterest ideas seem silly and over the top, but I can honestly say that our boys got a kick out of all the special food that we made. For once, we nailed a Pinterest inspired idea!

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PB&J Spider Sandwiches

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Mummy Hot Dogs

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Jack-O-Lantern Ranch Bean Dip

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Aaanndd… Fizzy Worm Juice (which was not Vodka and Sprite for us adults, if that’s what you were thinking. Ahem.)

As for costumes, this year Brady chose what he and Nolan would be. He’s been super into his Curious George books lately, so he decided that he wanted to be “The Man with the Yellow Hat” and Nolan should be Curious George. This totally worked for me because I had a monkey costume that I bought from Target on clearance at the end of the season last year, so Nolan was taken care of. However, Brady’s costume was a different story. Turns out, “The Man with the Yellow Hat” is not a very common pre-schooler costume, so we had to do some improvising. We found his shirt at the mall, the pants on Amazon, and well, yours truly made the hat. Thank you, glue gun!

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Ahhh the cuteness!

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We took the boys trick-or-treating at the park by our house for their “Trick or Treat the Trails” event. They had a blast and I was so relieved to see that people actually knew what the boys were dressed as. Again, thank you, glue gun!

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Once Nolan realized that people were just giving him candy, he was stoked! He tried eating it wrapper and all!

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Brady would not let Chris and I go without costumes, so last minute we threw together some cowboy costumes. When a 3 year old tells you to wear a costume, you do it.

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We ended the evening by trick-or-treating with our neighbors in our neighborhood. After we put the boys to bed, Chris and I sat outside, gave out more candy, and enjoyed some more “Worm Juice.”

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It was an awesome Halloween! We’ll probably need to detox tomorrow from all the sugar and excitement, but it was worth it. I’ll leave you with another favorite Halloween memory…Nolan’s first time listening to “Thriller.” HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

 

Slow Cooker Sweet Potatoes {Kids Cook Monday} *Farmer’s Market*

 

One of our favorite things to do is to take a trip to the weekly Farmer’s Market in Downtown Raleigh. Besides the abundance of farm fresh produce, there’s always fun free samples, live music, and lots to look at. My boys always get a kick out of checking out what’s in season and sampling different vendor’s goodies. For this week’s Kids Cook Monday recipe, we headed downtown to see what was in season this time of year. We were inspired by all of the apples and sweet potatoes for sale. Not only did we get to sample some yummy granola and peanut butter, but we also got the ingredients for this week’s Kids Cook meal.

 

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I should note that not only is the Downtown Raleigh Farmer’s Market entertaining, but the produce is SO cheap! This slow cooker apple/sweet potato dish cost about $2 for the whole batch. Even if you doubled the batch, it would still be a super affordable Thanksgiving side dish!

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Sweet, tart, and slow cooked goodness!

Ingredients

3-4 apples, peeled and chopped
2-3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup water
3 Tbs. Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger
2 Tbs. Butter

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I used a combo of sweet and tart apple varieties. You could also mix up the spices you use- nutmeg would be delicious!

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Mine and Brady’s favorite part of cooking- chopping!

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As you can see, we gave the apples a very rough, not perfect, peel and chop.

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Dump the apples and sweet potatoes into the slow cooker. Pour the water over them and toss your butter on top.

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Sprinkle on the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Give the pot a big stir and then put the lid on. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours. The apples cook faster than the potatoes, so check your potatoes to make sure they are nice and soft.

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Patiently wait for your sweet potatoes to finish cooking…

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Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through, remove from the crock pot. We ate ours just like this, but you could also top with more brown sugar and pecans. Or, even add a little cream and mash them up a bit for a apple sweet potato mash. Yum!

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Not only do these sweet potatoes end up tasting like apple pie filling, but your whole house will smell delish!

This would be the easiest Thanksgiving side dish ever. Plus, it won’t take up that precious oven space! Our kiddos enjoyed this farm to table treat, and hopefully yours will too!

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Boone/Blowing Rock Adventure

The Smith Family went on a heck of an adventure recently. My Aunt Claudia was coming to visit us and asked if we’d like to join her for a trip to Boone, NC to a cabin in the mountains. Of course we jumped at the chance! Aunt Claudia found the most amazing cabin in the mountains of the Blowing Rock/Boone area which is about 3 hours from Raleigh. We spent 5 days exploring the area, climbing mountains, taking in scenery, eating delicious food, and making some awesome memories. This was an especially great experience for me because I visited this same area when I was little with my Aunt Claudia and her family. It was fun to see it all again through my boys’ eyes. It was also the perfect place to see the Fall leaves in all their splendor. Here’s some highlights from our trip…

 

We took a drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Grandfather Mountain. We crossed the Mile High Swinging Bridge and it was (stomach flipping) awesome. Brady and Chris climbed the side of the mountain and went as high as they could while I proudly watched and tried not to have a panic attack!

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Not gonna lie…crossing this bridge scared the you know what outa me!

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Chris and Brady climbed so high on Grandfather Mountain. You can see them sitting at the top of the peak. (Mommy had a panic attack!)

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Check out the Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Amazing how it just drops off into nowhere. I can’t imagine how they built this…

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Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway- breathtaking!

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Our cabin was perfect. We had a hot tub, pool table, and wrap around porches with amazing views. The boys loved it!

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Loved these views all around our cabin.

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We spent one day exploring Downtown Blowing Rock. It was so quaint with lots of shops and restaurants and a great park that the boys loved.

 

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The kiddos loved this little park in Blowing Rock.

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LOVE this picture. He was so proud of his leaf!

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Super chilly day in Blowing Rock!

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting Tweetsie Railroad. There were rides, a petting zoo, and of course, a train that went through the mountains. Again, the scenery was perfect.

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Nolan’s first time going on a ride. So precious!

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Tweetsie Railroad Train…the boys LOVED riding this!

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An awesome backdrop for a great park with gorgeous weather!

Brady is a train loving fool and Nolan loved waving “Bye-bye” to people from the train.

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I went to this park with Aunt Claudia when I was little. So sweet to experience it with her and my boys again.

Another Smith Family adventure for the books, and another reason for us to love North Carolina!